Report: Sony Developing 3D Facial Recognition Mobile Tech

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Sony is developing a "true" facial recognition solution for smartphones, according to a representative of the Japanese company's subsidiary SoftKinect. The spokesperson was quoted by TechCrunch earlier this week as saying that the firm's 3D facial identification technology will be presented later this week at the Asian edition of the recently started Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Shanghai, China. The creation reportedly entails a 3D sensor that's integrated into a mobile device and can perceive depth, consequently being able to accurately scan a person's face. The sensor itself would likely be integrated into the front-facing camera of the device for cost-efficiency purposes, though it's currently unclear how far into development SoftKinect's solution truly is. Regardless, the company apparently already has a working prototype of the technology that it was reportedly able to implement into one Sony Xperia-branded handset.

SoftKinect didn't develop the new platform from scratch, with the company's representative revealing that the technology uses face identification software from KeyLemon, a Martigny, Switzerland-based company with almost a decade of experience in this industry segment. Sony's subsidiary is apparently mostly handling the hardware and implementation of the solution into its parent's mobile devices, hoping to ultimately develop the first true facial recognition system for smartphones. 3D face recognition technology is theoretically significantly more secure to iris scanners that Samsung started popularizing less than a year ago, first with the now-discontinued Galaxy Note 7 and then with the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus. The South Korean original equipment manufacturer still isn't keen on relying on its authentication method too much as the solution can be spoofed in a relatively reliable manner, but industry's stances on mobile security may change if someone manages to develop a commercially viable biometric identification system for handsets.

Sony's solution is still far from the market seeing how the firm is only now expected to demo a single proof-of-concept and while the Japanese tech giant usually doesn't shy away from open-sourcing its software, it's unlikely that it would be willing to license its hardware to direct competitors, especially if SoftKinect manages to come up with a truly unique mechanism that it cannot be forced to license to its competitors as essential patents.

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